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Replacement Goldfish
Michael: Of course it matters! That was the original Edgar!

It's a cliché (and Truth in Television) that when a parent finds that their child's goldfish or other beloved pet has died, they'll try to replace it with a new one and pretend the original pet never died. The Replacement Goldfish trope is when a character follows this line of thinking to fill in the emotional void of a loss they've suffered.

In realistic settings, this could be an orphan taken in by a parent who has recently lost a child (to death, relocation, etc). In a sci-fi setting, the typical trope is the lonely scientist who creates a robot, android, artificial intelligence, clone, or robot-clone in the image of the deceased. Often it's a Robot Girl or Robotic Spouse, or Robot Kid in the case of a dead child.

If the new "goldfish" is unlucky, they constantly live in the shadow of the dead person and feel they can't measure up, which can also be the secret disappointment of the Mad Scientist. If unwary visitors are unlucky, the Living Doll Collector will try to use them as parts or playmates for their replacement in The Doll Episode.

The Motherly Scientist is someone who legitimately loves the new creation for themselves; either as the original creator or surrogate.

When a lonely Evilutionary Biologist fills the void by cloning himself, he is a Truly Single Parent.

Compare Baby-Doll Baby. Not to be confused with the Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Comic Books  
  • Y: The Last Man averts this in the Distant Finale. Yorick refuses to even consider the offer implied by theories concerning bringing back any number of dead women and a sample of 355's hair.
    • Played rather straight in the same series' penultimate chapter when Dr. Matsumori is revealed to have used his estranged daughter's tissue samples in the hopes of being a proper father to her this time around. Alison Mann (neé Atsuko Matsumori) is annoyed over it, but she did not like the guy anyway, even before finding out he had sabotaged her own cloning project out of sheer ego.
    • Also in the Distant Finale, Yorick has dozens of Ampersand-clones who take care of him in his old age. It's implied he DID use these as replacement goldfish after he euthanized the original (it was dying of old age and miserable) but is very cynical about it. None of the clones misbehave the way he did.
  • Spygirl, the Japanese knockoff of Spyboy, is/has an entire assembly line of Replacement Goldfishes for herself. The Japanese spies don't understand why the Americans put so much effort into Spyboy if they were only going to make one. Her one solo story ends with the current model getting this explained to her via a flashback explaining a picture of her she doesn't remember taking, ending with the Spygirl in the picture dying and being replaced with her. She's then drugged to forget the whole thing and has the photo taken away, with her superior who's been flashbacking remarking that if she figures it out again, she can always be replaced.
    • Painkiller Jane suffers from the same issue.
  • A significant problem in Spider-Man and Mary Jane's marriage is that M.J often had the problem of feeling like she couldn't measure up to Spidey's first love, Gwen Stacy. But hey, it's not like THAT'S a problem any more! Hell, it was shown in House of M that his heart's desire is to be married to Gwen and to a father a kid with her.
    • Well, actually, the point of that story was to show that his heart's desire was to have saved Gwen Stacy from her plunge off the George Washington bridge. The bit about marrying Gwen and having kids with her was an in-universe example of the Fridge Logic inherent in Peter's wish: if Gwen hadn't died, he'd have married her and never became more than friends with MJ.
    • Also, it was not so much a problem of MJ not measuring up to Gwen. As early as the original Clone Saga in the 1970s it was shown that Peter had moved on. When Gwen apparently returned from the dead (at that point neither she nor Peter knew she was actually a clone) and kissed Peter, his reaction made her doubt that he still loved her.
  • Part of the reason Jason Todd went nuts after his resurrection was because he thought Batman just replaced him without question. The other part was that Jason's killer was still alive.
    • In many ways, Jason was just a replacement for Dick, which only added to the resentment he felt. Some of the different versions of his origin story went so far as to say he was a natural redhead who dyed his hair black like Dick's — or was made to dye his hair by Batman.
      • Suddenly having a redheaded Robin when Bruce Wayne had just taken on a redheaded ward would've been suspicious, to say the least. Black hair minimized the switch.
  • The problems of the marriage of Hank Pym (Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket) and Janet Van Dyne (the Wasp) have often been traced back to the fact that what first got Hank interested in Jan was that she reminded him of his murdered first wife.
  • Havok from the X-Men was adopted as a child... by parents seeking to replace their dead son. How they got past psychological screening is anyone's guess, but then again, future X-Villain Mr. Sinister was the one running the place.
  • In Maus, Art's mother sometimes treated him like this, comparing him to his brother Richieu, who died in childhood years before Art was born (today, she would be diagnosed with manic depression, but back then she was just "crazy"). Art also talks about how he has a sibling rivalry with his dead brother. Vladek also sometimes calls Art "Richieu". Whether this is an honest mistake that every parent with multiple children makes or a Freudian Slip is intentionally ambiguous. It's possibly a mix of both considering the traumatic circumstances surrounding Richelieu's death.
  • The Beano's back page was originally a story called Tin-Can Tommy, about a robot boy built by a professor after his son died. The professor later built a brother for Tommy, called Babe.
  • In a way, E-123 Omega in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog was this for Commander Tower. He wanted Shadow to get E-102 Gamma because he turned himself into something of an assassin. However, circumstances forced Gamma to perform a Fusion Dance of sorts with Omega, leading to Tower to take up Omega instead.

     Fan Works 
  • Pokeumans: Any person that transforms into a Pokeuman, whether they get rescued by the good guys or captured by the bad guys, is replaced by an identical clone with the same memories as the person they replaced, so that even they think they are the real one. So you could be one.
  • In World in Pieces an alternate-universe Draco Malfoy tried to turn the Rowling-universe Harry into a replacement for his boyfriend, the late alternate-Harry. Canon Harry strongly objected.
  • In Harry Potter: Master of Luck Harry had a pet mouse which his accidental magic turned into an Inferius after Dudley stepped on it.
    It was like a parent replacing a dying pet with another that looked like the first, but taken to the extreme of an emotional and powerful young wizard making it happen through sheer juvenile force of will.
  • In A Marauder's Plan McGonagall told Harry that she'd never been suspicious about "Scabbers"' longevity because she assumed Ron's parents were carrying out this trope, admitting that her own parents had done it with her.
    ..."I got a pet fish called Bubbles when I was five. I loved watching Bubbles swim around in her fish-bowl. My mother told me later in life that there were actually twenty different Bubbles until I was the one who found her dead one morning rather than my parents."
    "Oh." Harry suddenly remembered the goldfish Dudley had won one year at the town fair. It had died rather quickly and his Aunt Petunia had replaced it with an identical looking goldfish. Obviously Dudley had gotten bored soon after and when that one had died, it hadn't been replaced.
  • After Fratello's death, Brain builds a replacement Fratello in My Brave Pony: Star Fleet Magic III.

     Film - Animated 
  • In Mary and Max, Max gets a new goldfish after each of his previous ones dies, each new golfish being named "Henry (Roman Numeral)". There's a montage that shows the passing of several Henrys.
  • The Professor does this twice in The Nightmare Before Christmas. The first is Sally, who proves very undesirable, rebellious and disobedient. Exasperated, the Professor gives her freedom and makes a female robot who uses half of his own brain.
    "Think of the conversations we'll have, my dear."
    • Just the once, actually - Sally was the first goldfish. Presumably, before Sally, he did his own freakin' housework.
    • Maybe this is more like a Replacement Beta following the Goldfish, since the doctor treats Sally like an annoying child, but replaces her with a wife.
    • It's also worth pointing out that it was Sally's suggestion in the first place.
  • In Disney's Tarzan, the titular character was adopted by Kala who recently lost her baby to Sabor.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • In Vertigo, Scottie molds the brunette Judy into the image of the elegant blond Madeleine after the latter woman breaks his heart by committing suicide. Cruelly ironic once learned that Judy really is the "Madeleine" he'd known — she impersonated the real Madeleine as part of Elster's plan to cover up his murder of his wife.
  • In A.I., the android child David is adopted as a replacement for Henry and Monica's comatose son. The problems really begin when the "real" son wakes up.
    • Android David was also created in the image of Professor Hobby's dead son David.
  • Although unable to build a Ridiculously Human Robot, the computer programmer from WarGames did name the military's nuke-controlling AI "Joshua" after his dead child.
  • In North (best-known for starring a very young Elijah Wood and Roger Ebert's infamous review of the film), one of the title character's several adoptive families almost immediately start trying to shape him into the image of their dead son.
    • Extra creepy because this appears to merely be a pleasant bonus to their stated goal of having the biggest of everything in Texas - son included.
  • Ripley and Newt's relationship had overtones of this in Aliens (Ripley had a daughter, who died while she was in cryosleep - but that scene was cut).
    • The scene appeared in the first TV showing of the film, and is on the DVD release, as part of the regular narrative, not as a "deleted scene" bonus. It's also worth noting that Ripley was in cryosleep for an unplanned 50 years, during which her daughter grew up, grew old, and died a natural death. She didn't die as a child. But that makes Ripley's loss more profound, because she missed out on an entire long life, while her daughter never knew what happened to her.
  • Violet and the Creepy Child in Ultraviolet.
  • In an attempt to replace their stillborn daughter, Kate and John Coleman adopted a mysteriously intelligent nine year old Russian Orphan called Esther into their family.... Bad mistake.
  • The Francis Ford Coppola version of the story of Dracula had the title character attracted to Mina because of her resemblance to his lost wife Elizabeta, who killed herself (and in the church's view, damned herself) because of a false report of his death spread by his enemies, which led to Dracula renouncing God and becoming a vampire.
  • In the 1927 Fritz Lang film Metropolis, Mad Scientist Rotwang builds a Ridiculously Human Robot to replace Hel (named for the Norse goddess Hel), the woman he loved, but who married someone else and then died in childbirth. On the most literal level, she's Rotwang's Replacement Goldfish, but on some level, she also serves that function for most of the major characters. (In addition, she becomes Maria's Evil Twin — or, more precisely, her evil Doppelgänger.)
  • At the end of Face/Off, Sean Archer adopts Castor Troy's son to fill the void left by his murdered son.
  • In Eve and the Fire Horse, a little Chinese-Canadian girl is told that the souls of the dead sometimes return as goldfish. She asks for (and gets) one, literally to take the place of her grandmother who has just died.
  • The 6th Day is made of this trope. "Re-pet" is a company that will clone your dead dog/cat/fish and give it the memories of the deceased. While cloning humans is illegal, the bad guys get reborn this way, as does a scientist's wife.
    • Actually, the wife is never cloned. It's brought up, but the woman specifically asks her husband not to bring her back. An extra twist is that she's dying from a genetic disease the Evil Company gave her in the first place.
  • A double example occurs in the movie of Interview with the Vampire (and in the book as well). Claudia wants to make Madeline a vampire to replace Louis who she fears will leave her for Armand. Madeline is fully willing to become a vampire so Claudia (who can never die) can replace her deceased daughter.
    • It's almost a triple example. Claudia either can't grow, or is growing very slowly. She asks for Louis to make Madeline a vampire so she can do what Claudia can not, since she is physically a child.
  • Arguably, James Bond sees all of his various Love Interests as replacement Tracies, the one he actually married (or perhaps, as replacement Vespers, the first one he actually fell in love with).
  • One of the big reveals at the end of Dont Look Back involves this. The real Jeanne died in a car accident when she was a child, and her mother raised Rosa Maria to take her place.
  • In The White Ribbon, when Piepsi the songbird dies, the Pastor's youngest offers the bird he has nursed to health to replace him. Because his father seemed so sad
  • In Underworld Viktor turns Selene into a vampire because she was the spitting image of his daughter. Who he had killed hundreds of years before.
  • In Meetthe Parents, Greg Focker wanted to be the one to find his girlfriend's family's cat that had been lost (and was going to be the ring barer in a wedding) to impress his girlfriend's father. He managed to find a cat that was the same color except without the tip orange of the tail, which Greg spray painted. Obviously, Greg was found out.
  • Justin Hammer, wanting to ensure the work of his new engineer Ivan Vanko runs smoothly, buys him a new cockatoo and tries to pass it off as the original, flown in all the way from Russia, in Iron Man 2. Vanko instantly recognizes it as a fake, and calls him on it - but it's shown later that he likes the new bird and has kept it anyway.
  • In X-Men: The Last Stand, Magneto essentially replaces Mystique with Callisto.

    Jokes 

    Music 
  • The song "Silver Bride" by the folk metal band Amorphis is about a widower who creates a woman of gold and silver to serve as this. It was inspired by a passage from The Kalevala, the Finnish national epic that has inspired much of Amorphis' work.
  • In The Protomen's Rock Opera, Mega Man is a goldfish for the fallen Proto Man. In a way, Proto Man could be seen as a variation - the son Dr Light never had, since Wily murdered his girlfriend.
    • As well as one for Sniper Joe.
    • The Megas version of Protoman also sees Megaman as this.
      • Alson in The Megas Doctor Lights' song is about how Megaman is the Replacement Goldfish for the son he never had. Unlike most example the song has Doctor Light loving him unconditionally and is scared to death that he has to send out his son to fight Doctor Wily, as he's the only one that can do so.
    "They call you hero. I call you my son."
  • The title character of the Voltaire song "The Mechanical Girl" was created by a tinker who had lost his daughter and made her to be a new one.
    • Although Voltaire takes pains to avert this trope; the tinker is specifically making himself a new daughter, not a clone of the former one:
    ''"...his daughter passed away that summer
    and though he knew he could not replace her
    he missed his family"''

    Myth and Religion 
  • A Biblical example: Satan kills off all seven of his sons and three of his daughters in the beginning of the Book of Job. At the end of the Book of Job, Job bears a replacement seven sons and three daughters, and said daughters are specifically stated to be the most beautiful in the land.
  • In The Kalevala, mythical master smith Ilmarinen is widowed and, in his loneliness, searches for a new wife. No maiden accepts him, fearing to meet the fate of his dead wife. Having forged the sky and the miracle machine Sampo, he decides to make himself a perfect wife from silver and gold. It turns out badly, as the new wife says nothing, feels nothing, and is as cold as a stone. In the end, disappointed Ilmarinen pushed her back into the forge, destroying her.

     Tabletop Games  
  • In Exalted, the Celestial Exalted get reborn after they die. The Exalted part goes on into a new person, retaining some small bits of its memories and personality traits, while the human part dies. Most new Exalts are treated by their peers that remember their previous lives as being the same person, even though they are not and have personalities of their own. (Swan was Desus, Contentious Sword etc)
  • In the storyline for the Magic: The Gathering set Planeshift, Yawgmoth (the Big Bad) grants Crovax (the Dragon) a Replacement Goldfish for his lost love, Selenia. Later Crovax lures Gerrard (the main protagonist) to the dark side with false promises of a Replacement Goldfish of his own, though Gerrard sees through the ruse in time. It is unclear whether Crovax realizes that his Selenia Mark II is not the genuine article.
  • In 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, there is an Epic Destiny called "Hordemaster." As one of its features, you gain a number of followers that, upon your death, take up your mantle until such a time you can be resurrected. Conveniently, your replacement is mechanically identical to you, but your party might not be so warm to him/her.

    Theater 
  • Inadvertently done in Miss Saigon: The role of Ellen, the woman Chris marries after returning from Vietnam, was usually played by a blonde or redhead. However towards the end of the show's Broadway run, an Asian actress was cast in the part. Suddenly, instead of moving on with his life as he insisted that he had, it now seemed fairly obvious that Chris only married Ellen because she reminded him of his lost love Kim.
  • Two examples in Love Never Dies:
    • The Phantom uses Meg Giry as a poor-man's Christine after he leaves Paris for New York (the lampshading of which causes an enraged Meg to kill the real Christine.)
    • The Phantom builds a full fledged Christine robot. Yes, really.
  • Heavily implied in Romeo and Juliet:
    • The nurse speaks about how she lost her daughter, who was Juliet's age (she nursed them both), and she treats Juliet as her daughter instead. (Besides that, her husband is also dead. This probably explains why she's still living with the Capulets after all these years—she lost her family, and she adopted a new one.)
    • Tybalt's parents are never shown, and he seems to be very close to his cousin's family, even fiercely self-identifying as a Capulet, although Lady Capulet claims he's "her brother's child" so, technically, he wouldn't take the Capulet name, being related to Lord Capulet only by marriage.note  The family's grief at his death is so strong that modern adaptations, like West Side Story, often go right ahead and make him Juliet's brother. It's been suggested that Tybalt's parents are dead, and that he considers his aunt and uncle to be his parents. Lord and Lady Capulet are said to have lost many children besides Juliet, including (probably) sons, which might make this a two-way Replacement Goldfish.
      • Lady Capulet is herself only 26. She might be a Replacement Goldfish for her much-older husband's first wife.
  • In the Offenbach opera Tales of Hoffmann, Dr. Coppelius makes a clockwork image of his dead daughter, whom he passes off as the original. Hoffmann falls in love with her and this makes the clockwork go haywire.
  • Invoked unsuccessfully in Pippin: when Pippin is trying to cheer up Theo after his duck gets sick and dies, he brings him a lamb (or, in one production, a puppy). Theo takes one look at it, says, "That's not a duck, dummy!" and runs off.
  • In Pokémon Live!, Giovanni made MechaMew2 to replace Mewtwo, who escaped from him.

     Visual Novels  
  • In Little Busters!, whenever Komari witnesses blood or death, her repressed memories of her dead brother come out and force her into a Heroic BSOD. The only way she can wrench herself out of that state is to pretend that some kind of appropriate nearby person is actually her brother and act like nothing is wrong as a Stepford Smiler until she can push her negative feelings back down enough again. In the good end Riki manages to break her out of the cycle and force her to accept reality, but in the bad end he agrees to pretend to be her brother and they stay that way.
  • Dangan Ronpa: In chapter three the students find a laptop containing the program Alter Ego. It was built by Fujisaki, who was murdered in the previous chapter, and looks just like him. It also serves as a replacement for Oowada after Alter Ego creates a simulation of him to cheer Ishimaru up

     Web Comics  
  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl has Lucy on both sides of it, with her being a Replacement Goldfish for Mike's lost love interest Sandy, and Paulo being her replacement Goldfish when Mike rejects her. It doesn't go well for her either time.
  • As we find out, Marena from Keychain of Creation is actually Misho's lover in his past life and he remembers her as such, not as the current-day Marena. This causes a lot of frustration.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Grace's DNA was artificially crafted, but the project was hijacked into a replacement for a scientist's daughter, who died in a car crash. Grace considers the original Grace her mother and calls the scientist her grandfather.
    • Considering the method of reproduction of the Uryuoms, that's actually the relationship she has with them.
  • This xkcd strip has one character describe doing this in a video game, and then start to evoke a "troubling" extension of the concept to real life.
  • A somewhat strange example in Girl Genius involves the Sturmvoraus family. After Anevka Sturmvoraus is exposed to the Geisterdamen's summoning machine by her father, her brother, Tarvek, builds a life-support chamber connected to a pneumatic clockwork girl, so that she can still communicate with the outside world while being kept alive and protected. The puppet becomes sentient to the degree that when the organic Anevka actually dies, it goes on believing that it is still being controlled by a living master, instead of being self-aware, and fools everyone but Tarvek as well. Eventually, the Anevka personality of the puppet is deactivated after it turns out to have "inherited" a little too much of the family's betrayal gene, and is replaced by the personality of The Other.
  • In Misfile, Ash is Kate's surrogate for her dead sister. Kate explicitly saying she needs to find a sister in her in one strip. Naturally, boy turned girl Ash finds this turn of events rather disconcerting, to say the least.
  • Used very literally in the beginning of Abe Kroenen where Kroenen's initial interest in Abe came because Abe reminded him of his dead goldfish Wolfram.
  • The episode "Caroline's Doppelganger" from A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible uses this trope heartbreakingly.
    Father: Darling, you can't spend every day searching for your real self. You'll waste living the pale reflection of her life!
  • In Sluggy Freelance, this occurs several times to underline the repeated theme "that which redeems, consumes". First, the Riff from the Dimension of Lame accidentally killed Torg and Kiki in an experiment, so, in order to redeem himself, he kidnapped their counterparts from an alternate universe to replace them. Then, when the AU Torg tried to get back home, DOL-Riff tried to get him back, inadvertently kidnapping the Torg from the main Sluggy-verse as his replacement. And he apparently repeated this process at least five times. This led to The Legions of Hell invading and ravaging the world, all because Riff wanted to make things right. And then, when Torg returns home, he finds that his version of Riff went to the same lengths to get a Replacement Goldfish for him, kidnapping a squid-monster version of Torg from Another Dimension and hiring cloners to create a clone of Torg.
  • Done horrifyingly in Dubious Company, when Raque realizes Elly looks like a younger version of her beloved king.
  • In one Story Minute, after a woman writes a "Dear John" letter and leaves her husband, he builds a robot duplicate of her. "The second time, she didn't leave a note."
  • Precocious: Ursula Xane replaced Xander Upton.

     Web Original 
  • Epsilon in Red vs. Blue acts as a Replacement Goldfish best friend for Caboose, replacing Church. Of course, he has the original's personality and memories, so it's not too big of a deal for him.
    • And then he is replaced by Washington. Church originally takes it with a sour attitude, but eventually learns to accept it by the end of Season 10.
    • Agent Texas was one of these for Director, to replace the original Allison.
  • Rooster Teeth supplies the page quote as well, from a two-part Achievement Hunter Let's Play of Minecraft. During the first part, Michael had freed Edgar, a cow imprisoned in a hole in Ryan's house, only for Edgar to apparently be killed by Geoff later. However, when the guys return to Achievement City at the end of the second part, Edgar is back in his hole. Turns out Ryan was the Magnificent Bastard all along, having remade the hole, repaired the damages Michael had made to his house, and lured a random cow into the hole. Michael protests that Ryan didn't rescue the original Edgar, only for Ryan to point out that "Edgar is the one in the hole." The event was so memetic that RT even made an animated interpretation of this madness.
  • She's still around, but since Nella gained the confidence to tell The Nostalgia Chick that she was going too far with the abuse, Elisa unwillingly filled the abused best friend role.
  • In Demo Reel, Rebecca Stone unknowingly is the Replacement Goldfish for director Donnie, replacing his dead actress mom. They have the same Raven Hair, Ivory Skin, the same issues with the industry and she keeps getting roles in his movies where the original dies, but the remake makes them survive or come back to life in ways that don't make sense.
  • In Atop the Fourth Wall, Harvey considered Linkara to be a replacement for his deceased son, although he wouldn't admit it. The 2012 Christmas episodes involved the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future trying to get Harvey to accept his son's death and that Linkara will never replace him.
  • Taken Up to Eleven in Twitch Plays Pokémon Emerald: the day after accidentally releasing her Oddish, A went to the Safari Zone and caught twenty-nine Oddish and a Gloom. One of them ended up as a member of the party, was evolved into Vileplume, and named Cabbage the White after Cabbage, the released Gloom from Twitch Plays Pokémon Red.

    Western Animation 
  • Danielle in Danny Phantom was created as an imperfect clone of the main character (not only physically younger and female, but with an unstable body). She was a stepping stone on the way to creating a perfected clone and, when she found out, turned into a Tykebomb.
  • Odd spin: In Transformers: Beast Wars, Megatron had a habit of making replacement Dinobots. An organic one was made after he defected to the good guys and the transmetal Dinobot II after his Heroic Sacrifice. Megatron seemed pleased with these clones (Dinobot II was basically his second in command), except when they followed their template's footsteps a little too closely.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender , Iroh begins treating Zuko like a son after his own child, Lu Ten, dies in battle. He seems to love Zuko for who he is, however, and doesn't project Lu Ten onto him. Since Zuko is also DESPERATELY in need of a father figure, it all works out. Usually.
  • In The Venture Bros., the accident-prone titular brothers have killed themselves numerous times, only to be replaced by identical clones (with their memories implanted) every time, a major plot point at the beginning of the second season. Sociopath Dr. Venture seems to think this is no big deal.
  • When South Park killed Kenny For Real, the boys tried to make Butters dress in Kenny's coat and even called him Kenny until he stopped cooperating.
    • Another episode implied there were different Kennys and their parents named each new kid "Kenny" to replace the last one.
      • Then in the Coon and friends trilogy it's subverted when it turns out that every child they have after Kenny dies IS Kenny being literally being reborn as a Hand Wave to him being killed and being back next episode it's also gotten to the point where Kenny will shoot himself in the head when tired since he'll wake up the next day in his bed.
  • Done by The Simpsons in a Halloween Special; Bart, the original goldfish, wakes from his coma, builds himself a robotic shell, and comes back for revenge. And then there's the time (widower) Flanders offers a bed for the night to an old flame...who wakes up to find Flanders cutting her hair to match Maude's.
  • Futurama has two:
    • In "The Luck of the Fryrish", Philip Fry is upset that his brother Yancy took the name Philip and accomplished all of Philip Fry's goals. However, it turns out that the Philip Fry of history was actually Philip Fry II, Yancy's son. Yancy named his son out of admiration for his brother.
    • In the sixth season episode "Rebirth", Fry builds a robot as a replacement Leela after the real Leela ends up in a coma. Then doubled — it turns out that Fry was a robot created by the real Leela after the real Fry died. The two robots are promptly paired off.
  • In Animals Of Farthing Wood, refusing to accept the fact that his friend Mole died, Badger mistakes his son Mossy for him because he looked just like him, he eventually dies without learning the truth that Mole had long since died and that he'd been talking to his son the whole time.
  • One episode of American Dad! note  which features Roger moving out of the Smith's house, has a plot about Stan finding a replacement Roger in the form of Andy Dick.
    • They also had a very Literal example, when Klaus gets his brain put into a black man and he flushes his Goldfish body, but by the end he winds up back in a completely new but identical Goldfish body.
  • Unintentionally (and rather subtly) done in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012). When Hamato Yoshi loses his wife and baby daughter to an attack by Oroku Saki, he moves to New York and buys four baby turtles for company. One encounter with the Kraang and some Mutagen later, and Hamato suddenly has four new sons to take care of.
  • Played for slightly-creepy laughs in The Amazing World of Gumball‎, when Darwin is mistaken for a genius and taken away for study. His parents take in Rocky, dress him up as Darwin, call him 'Rockwin' and tell him to call them Mom and Dad. Darwin is a goldfish, making this is literal example as well.
    • Back when he was still a pet, Darwin himself was also a literal Replacement Goldfish for the first two Darwins.

     Real Life  
  • This has been a major problem with divorced families with teenaged kids still living at home. The mother unconsciously starts treating her son as a replacement husband or the father unconsciously treats his daughter as a replacement wife, sexually and emotionally. The poor kid ends up expected to provide adult advice and adult emotional support to a parent!
  • A documentary about the children of Holocaust survivors (Jews, BBC Four, June 2008) featured a woman who had survived Auschwitz but whose young daughter had been gassed there. Later, she settled in Britain, remarried and had another daughter, who was named after the first one.
    • It was even once fairly common (and might still be...) to name a child after what the parents would've called a stillborn or aborted baby had it lived. Have fun in therapy, kid! Course, it was common when more than half your kids were definitely going to die before they turned five, but hey, at least it's nice to know you'll never have to make up a name for all of them.
    • It was once fairly common to name a baby after its deceased sibling. The artist Vincent van Gogh was named after a brother who'd died one year before his own birth.
      • As was Salvador Dali­.
      • Nelson Mandela did this with his daughters.
      • Peter Sellers' birth name was Richard Henry, but his parents nicknamed him Peter, the name of their short-lived first child. Eventually, he adopted that name as his own. This has not passed without ironic comment, given his later claims that he could only be his characters and never himself.
      • Richard D. James.
      • This practice was actually used as a plotpoint in Beethoven's Last Night.
    • Current Ashkenazi Jewish custom (the superstitious ones anyway) is to avoid naming children after people who died young, or at least not using it as their primary name, out of fear it would bring bad luck and cause the new child to also die young.
      • In fact, the main tradition is to never name a child after someone who's alive, hence why you don't get too many Jewish Juniors.
    • Totally subverted in Mongolian culture where, if a couple's children kept on dying young, they would name the newborn something like 'Vicious Dog', 'Not This One', 'No Name', 'Not a Human Being', or give a female name to a boy. This was to make the evil spirits leave them alone, or to confuse the spirits.
      • Back when infant mortality was high, if a man wanted a "junior," he had to name the first born boy "Myself, jr.", and if that boy died, then the next boy born after the first junior's death would get named "Myself, jr." as well.
    • Times were different. Not only were infant and child mortality higher, people didn't put a high premium on having a special name. 80% of the population might have one of maybe 20 names. After a family had a "junior", the next boy was John, then James, then Edward, then William. If you met someone with a wild, wacky name like Hugh, or Andrew, then you knew he probably had a lot of older brothers who had lived past childhood. It was just a different time. If you are talking as far back as the middle ages, then giving a child a "stand-out" name just wasn't something that would ever have occurred to people, any more than using a telephone. However, giving a child a name that had belonged to a large number of saints, therefore giving the child many patrons, was very good. Some families named every girl "Mary", with a different second name. If you are talking about later centuries, people were interested in maintaining dignity and, in a few centuries, modesty. By the Victorian Era, they liked a name that people could hear and spell. That's why Queen Victoria didn't name any children "4real," or "Urhinyss."
    • In Maus, Art Spiegelman touches on this point, describing some warped sibling rivalry he had with his brother Richieu, who died in the Holocaust before he was born.
      • Specifically because his parents kept a large photograph of Richieu and then, of course, Art's own father calls him Richieu at the end of the book.
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber's habit of launching the careers of young musical actresses, his ex-wife Sarah Brightman among them, looks a lot weirder when you realize how much his newest find, Niamh Perry, resembles Brightman.
  • Long-running children's magazine show Blue Peter added a pet dog to the team, which died before the producers had worked out their contingency plan, but after having appeared on screen. They had no plan, and the kiddies would have been confused if it disappeared so soon after arriving, so they did the logical thing and sought out a replacement. When that eventually died, the producers felt that the pet had become familiar and they could deal with it properly.
  • There are rumours that suggest that this has happened to Paul McCartney.
  • Woman pays $50000 to clone dog.
  • Some non-pet owners, in an attempt to be nice, commit a massive faux pas when trying to cheer up a friend who has just lost a beloved pet. How? By getting a new one for them that they believe is identical. Trouble is, most pet owners want that one specific pet back, not one that looks like it. Better let them grieve and let them get a new pet on their own.
    • When Ricky Gervais' talk-show host friend got him a Siamese kitten after his cat died on live tv, he took it surprisingly well and was comforted by how much his friend cared. This is probably because he loves animals and kittens are cute. He named the cat Oliver.
    • On the other hand, some pet owners deliberately choose a new pet that is different as the similarity would bring back painful memories of the loss of the original.
  • When George Harrison was still married to Pattie Boyd, Eric Clapton had a brief relationship with her very similar-looking sister Jenny, which ended after Jenny heard the song "Layla" and realized it was about Pattie.
  • The majority of Ted Bundy's victims bore an eerie resemblance to a young woman who he'd been in love with, but had broken his heart. Investigators speculated that he was trying to quell his rage by symbolically killing her over and over again.

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